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US attorney in Massachusetts to resign amid ethics probe

Massachusetts US Attorney Rachael S. Rollins announced Tuesday that she planned to resign, a day before a Justice Department watchdog was expected to release the results of an investigation into her conduct in office, including an appearance at a Democratic fundraiser. .

Ms Rollins, 52, who was confirmed by the Senate in December 2021 after a bitter fight in which Vice President Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, will tender her resignation from the White House on Friday, her lawyer said.

The investigation into Ms. Rollins, the first black woman in Massachusetts named to one of the country’s top prosecutorial positions, initially focused on her decision to attend a Democratic National Committee event with Dr. Jill Biden. But it was later expanded to include her use of a personal cell phone to conduct department business, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Rollins’ “presence has become a distraction” for federal prosecutors in his office, his attorney, Michael R. Bromwich, said in an email. “The work of the office and the Department of Justice is too important to be overshadowed by anything else.”

Ms. Rollins plans to make a fuller statement and address the circumstances surrounding her departure “after the dust settles and she resigns,” added Bromwich, who served as the Justice Department’s inspector general from 1994 to 1999.

Ms. Rollins, who championed a different approach to criminal justice during her tenure as district attorney for a county that includes Boston, leaves as her office tackles one of its most high-profile cases in recent years: the investigation into the leak of classified national security information. documents from Airman Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman assigned to an intelligence wing at a base on Cape Cod.

The US Office of Special Counsel, another federal watchdog, has also been investigating whether Ms. Rollins’ attendance at a fundraiser in Andover, Massachusetts, last July violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits election campaigns by federal officials, according to The Associated Press, which previously reported details of the inspector general’s investigation.

Ms Rollins and her aides have recently been debating with officials at the Justice Department headquarters in Washington where the case against Mr Teixeira should take place. Headquarters officials have pushed for him to move from Massachusetts to northern Virginia, where prosecutors have more experience pursuing national security cases.

The investigation that caught up to Ms Rollins, which was seen as an embarrassment by department leaders who have emphasized ethics, played a role in pushing for a venue change, according to people familiar with the situation.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, also declined to comment.

Ms. Rollins has long supported criminal justice policy changes aimed at addressing racial disparities. These include sharply reduced penalties for shoplifting, property crimes, drug possession and driving offences.

However, that stance has earned her the enmity of many conservatives, who have accused her of ignoring the rise in violent crime. All 50 Senate Republicans he opposed her nomination in an evenly divided Senate when her confirmation came to a vote in late 2021.

Shortly after she appeared at the fundraiser last July, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who led opposition to her nomination as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, demanded an investigation.

Ms. Rollins initially dismissed the idea and downplayed the importance of her attendance.

“I had approval to meet with Dr. Biden and left early to speak at 2 community events last night,” Ms. Rollins wrote on social media At the time.

He added a jab at his critics: “Nice try, though.”

Members of the inspector general’s staff began their investigation shortly thereafter.

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